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Hastings Pier blaze could torpedo RIBA contest

Hastings Pier has been almost completely destroyed in a suspected arson attack, just over a week after RIBA launched a design competition for the site

It was hoped Hastings Pier on the east Sussex coast, which has been derelict since 2006, would be redeveloped as a result of the open design competition.

The fire has however wrecked the historic pier. It was first sighted at 1am this morning (5 October) and has destroyed 95 per cent of the old tourist attraction.

Two men were detained by Sussex Police, and are being questioned over the blaze.

The pier opened in 1872 and was designed by Eugenius Birch, architect of Brighton’s now ruined West Pier.

According to the competition brief, designers with ‘exceptional design skills and experience in engaging the local community’ are sought for the job. Experience of work in historical contexts is inessential.

The competition’s deadline for expressions of interest is 14 October. 

Update from RIBA competitions

This update follows today’s terrible news about the fire on Hastings Pier.  A structural survey to assess the damage to the pier’s substructure will be carried out as a matter of urgency.   It is everyone’s hope that the substructure of the pier (in its entirety or in part) will still be useable.  Should this be the case the intention will be to proceed with plans for the competition, albeit with an amended brief.  A meeting will be held in Hastings next Monday (11th October) with the engineers, soon after which further information regarding the state of the remaining structure should be known.  A follow up statement will be issued as soon as a report is available, meantime the competition is on hold, and next week’s submission deadline of 14th October no longer applies.  Anyone wishing to be kept up to date with developments should contact RIBA Competitions.  Architects already registered will be contacted directly.

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